Decorating with Pillow Shams

Pillow shams can dress up any bed. One must admit, the bed on the left looks boring, the one on the right looks spectacular and inviting. 

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  • A pillow sham is simply a pillow that is generally used for decorative purposes. Although, some pillow shams can be slept on.
  • Pillow shams can also be finished on the edge with a flange, cording, fringe, tassels or a simple knife-edge.  

Shams are made with and without flanges

To achieve a more interesting look with your pillow shams, consider, mixing things up by season. Use different color shams for the spring & summer (softer pastels) and fall & winter (jewel tones).

  • If possible, use the same fabric found on your shams with other pieces on your bed such as the dust ruffle or coverlet.
  • Use feather inserts in your shams, synthetic fills, such as polyester do not hold up as well over time
    • They don’t fill out the corners of the shams well.
    • Feather inserts are inexpensive. Feather is free flowing so it never bunches up.
    • If your sham is not filled properly, it won’t look great.
      • Don’t use worn out pillows inside your shams, as they may look under stuffed.
      • You might save a little money by trying to re-purpose them in a sham, but they may look sad.
  • On a Queen bed use (2) or (3) Euros shams.
  • With a King bed use (3) or (4) European shams (Euro 26” x 26”) – set them on their edge, as straight up and down as you can.
  • We like to place the Euro shams against the headboard.
    • Euro shams offer a nice height and tiered look. They are functional to, they are great to lean against when reading or watching TV in bed.
  • In front of your Euro shams, place your sleeping pillows, again, set them straight up & down on edge.
  • In front of your sleeping pillows place another layer of either Standard or King shams (on edge).
  • If you really want a full bed, use a few decorative pillows or a boudoir sham.
    • With this combination, you achieve a nice layered look and a nice elevation (from the head going toward the foot) with the tallest to the shortest.
  • The entire look of a bed can be changed with little cost simply by adding a few shams.
  • If you are using (3) shams on a bed, consider the center sham in a different color than the ones you have one each side. 
  • You’ll be amazed at how easily you can transform the look of the bed with this easy switch.

Common size shams are:

  • Euro – 26” H x 26” L
  • King Sham – 20” H x 36” L
  • Standard Sham – 20” H x 26” L
  • Boudoir Sham – 12” H 16: L

Flanges on pillow shams have a tendency to flop over, in the below video we demonstrate how to get the flanges of your pillow shams to stay up.

The below video explains the difference between a pillowcase and pillow sham.

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